As CNN leaves CNN Center, some facts about the Atlanta landmark

991231 ATLANTA -- CNN newsroom on December 31, 1999. (ALICIA HANSEN/STAFF)

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

991231 ATLANTA -- CNN newsroom on December 31, 1999. (ALICIA HANSEN/STAFF)

CNN wasn’t always in downtown Atlanta, but it has had a presence in CNN Center since 1987, when founder Ted Turner moved the 24-hour news network from offices in Midtown near Georgia Tech.

As CNN prepares to move to office space in Midtown, close to where it began in 1980, here are some things to know about the network and CNN Center in Atlanta.

991220 ATLANTA, GA: Visitors on the CNN tour get a look at the history of broadcasting. (JEAN SHIFRIN/staff)

Credit: AJC Staff Photo

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Credit: AJC Staff Photo

A tourist destination. For more than 30 years, CNN was popular with tourists and school groups for its studio tours, drawing up to 300,000 visitors per year. Visitors were able to see the newsroom and watch live shows in production. And in the gift shop, they could make a video of themselves pretending to deliver the news. The tours began in 1987, were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic and never restarted.

The only vestige of the short-lived 1976 World of Sid and Marty Krofft theme park was this eight-story high escalator, which Ted Turner kept to open the CNN Inside Studio Tour.

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

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Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

A very long escalator. Guinness World Records says the 8-story escalator in CNN Center is the world’s longest and tallest free-standing escalator. Taking the 193-foot escalator ride was part of the tour at CNN.

Sid and Marty Krofft's indoor amusement park, The World of Sid and Marty Krofft, at the Omni International Complex (now known as CNN Center) in Atlanta on Nov. 15, 1976. This photograph was taken five days after the amusement park closed down.
MANDATORY CREDIT: THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: AJC file

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Credit: AJC file

A former amusement park. Before CNN moved in, the space at the top of the escalator was briefly home to a theme park, the World of Sid and Marty Krofft, famous for the 1960s children’s TV show HR Pufnstuf. The ambitious park, which included a carousel and a giant pinball machine ride, closed after less than a year. It was described in a recent AJC story as an epic failure that is still fondly remembered.

TalkBack Live host Susan Rook does her show in the atrium of the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta.

Credit: PHIL SKINNER

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Credit: PHIL SKINNER

The food court shared space with a live talk show. At ground level in CNN Center are shops and a food court, and at one time an ice skating rink. The rink was gone when CNN moved there, but the space was rebuilt into an amphitheater to host the daily live broadcast of “Talkback Live” allowing visitors to watch and contribute their thoughts on the news of the day.

05/17/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — The CNN logo is displayed outside of the CNN Center building in Atlanta , Monday, May 17, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

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Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

A selfie spot. One of the more accessible landmarks at CNN Center has been the giant red CNN logo on the sidewalk along Centennial Olympic Park Drive. It was a popular photo spot for selfies and group pictures by visitors.

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